Produced by the Department of Media Relations & Publications

New Dean Discusses the Future of the Sciences at Lehman

August 14, 2009

Dr. Edward Jarroll, a biologist and former Associate Dean at Northeastern University, is Lehman's new dean of Natural and Social Sciences. In this podcast, he talks about his ongoing research and the sciences at Lehman.

7 Minutes 35 Seconds

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This is Lehman College graduate Sarah Sumler. Dr. Edward Jarroll, a biologist and former Associate Dean at Northeastern University, is Lehman's new Dean of Natural and Social Sciences. An expert on infectious disease organisms, Dr. Jarroll's research has been widely published in a number of scholarly journals. In this podcast, he talks about his ongoing research and the sciences at Lehman.



My scientific background is-- in biology. I'm a-- cell biologist, biochemist. I work on-- infectious disease organisms, single-cell protozoans-- particularly the organism Giardia, which is-- the eighth most commonly reported infectious disease at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And-- I study the metabolism of these organisms as they change from their infective state to their-- to the state that lives inside of the human. They go through two stages-- a feeding stage inside of the body, to a cyst stage that's transmitted-- to the next host-- via water or fingers-- food-- various types of-- of inanimate objects to get it into your mouth. And then you swallow it. And the-- and the life cycle continues. So, I work on the-- on the biochemistry, the biochemical aspects of that transition.

Usually, it causes a very-- severe intestinal-- disease, diarrhea-- flatulence-- gastrointestinal pain and distress. And it can cause more severe conditions, especially in children and especially in Third World countries where the nutrition and-- health rate-- health-- condition is not so great to start with. Diarrheal diseases are a number-one cause of death in Third World countries among children, anyway. Rotaviruses-- bacterial infections, and these protozoans all can contribute to that.


A lotta people don't realize that water could be contaminated and still look very, very clear and clean. It's a real problem. Giardiasis is in daycare centers. So, you know, even right now in-- in-- br-- in the Bronx-- in Manhattan or-- in Queens, on the island, wherever you live that has kids and daycare centers and parents, you can have it.

I-- I've-- just find these organisms extremely interesting, how they've managed to adapt to live in an environment-- such-- so diverse as the water and the-- and the-- insects and so forth that transmit these-- various parasites around the-- the world.

And then switch to live in a human host. That's a very different set of environmental conditions. And oftentimes, many parasites have to develop ways to live in between those hosts out in the environment. The-- the evolutionary aspects of that development have always been very-- interesting to me. And now, more recently, I've become interested in how to stop some of those developments so that we can learn how to treat these diseases more effectively.


I've been-- a consultant for different countries-- companies on how to-- to treat their various environmental-- needs, water or-- hospital-- machinery or whatever, for killing these infectious diseases. But mostly, I've been an academic-- studying the bio-- the basic biochemistry of these, how to control them in water supplies.

I've been funded-- by federal-- grants from the-- environmental-- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, from national institutes of health-- and from various foundations to study the biochemistry of Giardia-- and to help to develop ways to control it both in the environment and in the human host. I've managed to extend some of my work into the more free-living pathogenic amoeba-- acanthamoeba, balamuthia, naegleria.

Last fall, there were five young men, children, boys actually, that-- died of a naegleria infection of the brain from swimming in-- in warm waters and-- and lakes and rivers, especially in the South and California and places like that. So, those are free-living parasites that we're beginning to study. They're very rare. But they're very deadly when they do occur.


This year, I took the deanship at Lehman. It's been a career goal of mine to be a dean. And the opportunity to make a difference here with the new provost-- and-- the city university system-- was a-- was an attractive one. And here I am. And so far-- we're doing interesting things.

The dedication to the sciences here of course, is-- at least the natural sciences, is the new science building. And I'm very happy that they've decided to go green on this building. I think it-- sets-- a good tone for-- for the world.

And-- and as ecologists being part of our biology programs, I think it's good to-- to be-- able to-- lead by example. And we're really-- going to try to boost the research initiative and the graduate education as well as the undergraduate.


We're-- we're working to ensure that our students get the message that-- no matter what undergraduate major you take, you should still be coming out of school with a liberal-arts education, aright.

The old-- the old idea that we're training people to be well rounded citizens, to not just learn a discipline, not just learn that-- that this plant is an oak tree but to understand and-- and-- and think and critically analyze the data that they see in everyday world-- to the point where a person even in history ought to be able to look at the news and understand whether it's-- it's factual, whether it's-- the studies were done well-- as equally as well as a biologist.

So, we're looking for critical thinking-- reasoning-- communication skills, writing competencies. These are things that-- that we trai-- we hope we're training in all of the arts and sciences-- so that any of our graduates can go out into the working world and be marketable citizens-- no matter where they've chosen to have a degree in history or a degree in poli-sci or a degree in nursing.


I just published two papers this year. And I just got invited to write-- a chapter in a book the-- on the-- on the topic of Giardia, on the general metabolism of the organism. I'm pretty excited about that.

And-- I was just-- appointed as a special professor at the University of Nottingham Veterinary School-- for my expertise in protozoology. And-- as time and-- and-- opportunity permit, I will probably give some varying lectures there the-- that's Nottingham University in the United Kingdom.



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